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Dynamic IT use key to sustainable growth

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Vietnamese SMBs are having a chance to get out of the economic recession faster and seize new business opportunities by investing in new technologies, as they have less IT legacy, said Intel executives.

According to a recent study by Forrester Consulting, technology - specifically notebook PCs - has helped businesses become more productive and responsive to the needs of their customers. Notebook PCs represent almost 40 percent of worldwide enterprise PCs today.


In Vietnam, the ratio may go up even higher in the coming years as SMBs have less desktop legacy and are presented with more and more attractive pricings for notebook PCs.

"Technology is now recognised as an integral part of the business ecosystem. While investing now may sound like a contradiction, as resources are limited and budgets are tight, investing wisely can help you save costs, increase productivity and prepare you for the turnaround," Hong Soo Ng, Intel Malaysia's IT manager told VIR at his local office.

"IT can make a difference as it drives employee productivity, business productivity and maximises IT efficiencies," he said.

The Intel organisation itself is a prime example of how big a role IT now plays in a business's operation. "Intel has a total of 5,700 IT employees at 66 IT sites in 28 countries, supporting 83,000 employees in 150 sites across the world," said Liam Keating, Intel's director for Asia-Pacific IT operations.

About 83 percent of Intel employees now use notebooks as their primary business device. By replacing 6,400 desktops with notebooks in 2008, the company achieved productivity gains valued at USD 26 million.

For SMBs, the scope might be smaller but the scenario is similar. Notebook computers consume 25 to 35 watts less power compared to desktop computers. More importantly, notebooks meet employees' changing work expectations in line with the move towards more mobile computing.

Today's employees are increasingly demanding access to business applications while away from their desk; collaborating remotely across distributed groups; and interacting with their external stakeholders, including customers, prospects and suppliers.

However, in a more rapidly changing world, IT adoption is not a one-off task, as constant update and refresh are key to continuous productivity.

"SMBs in developing markets such as Vietnam have less desktop legacy than those in other markets, so they have more chance to leapfrog to notebooks, but notebooks themselves may soon become another legacy if they are not refreshed," said Ng.

"Researches showed that after 3 years, notebooks require 60 per cent higher support and extended warranties, with higher failures and increased virus and security breaches, while 5 year old systems take around 50 per cent longer in tasks, impacting productivity."

The dynamic use of mobile computing is to serve what Keating called "social enterprises", with "Generation Y" (Gen Y) employees, who are demanding new ways of working. "What is critical now is enterprise social computing, which includes the next generation of online collaborative technologies and practices that people use within the enterprise to share knowledge, expertise, experiences and insight with each other," he said.

Intel has taken a phased approach in providing social enterprise tools for its employees since 2008, with a mixture of basic tools such as blogs, wikis and instant messaging to those that mimic professional social networking programs such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

"Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! 360 and now Facebook have been increasingly popular in countries like Vietnam, and many enterprises are scared and do not know whether to block them or allow them, or how to control them," Keating said.

"But from our experience, I think they should act now and start a strategic plan, which should enable social enterprise one step at a time. The trend is inevitable and if you turn away from it, it will do you more harm than good."

Keating advised businesses, especially SMBs, to come up with a suite of tools, not disparate solutions, then integrate the tools into business processes and conduct security, risk and privacy assessment.

Training is a must to facilitate "ways to collaborate" behaviour change so that the use of social enterprise tools would maximise communication and idea generating and sharing within the enterprise rather than wasting employees' time.

Source: VietNamNet/VIR